Russia blocks final document at nuclear treaty conference

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia late Friday blocked an agreement on the final document of a four-week review of a U.N. treaty that was considered a cornerstone of nuclear disarmament, criticizing Russia’s military seizure of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant shortly after its invasion of Ukraine. This has led to the fear of a nuclear disaster.

“Unfortunately, there is no consensus on this document,” Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s non-proliferation and arms control department, said at the delayed final meeting of the council reviewing the 50-year-old nuclear non-proliferation treaty. He insisted that many countries – not just Russia – disagreed with the “entire issue” of the 36-page final draft.

The final document requires the approval of all countries of the Council that are parties to the treaty aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ultimately achieving a world without them.

Argentine Ambassador Gustavo Zlovinen, president of the conference, said the final draft represented his best effort to address the divergent views and parties’ expectations for a “progressive outcome” at a moment in history when “our world is increasingly plagued by conflict”, most alarmingly, the continuation of unthinkable nuclear war. Increasing odds.

But after Vishnevetski spoke, Zlovinen told delegates, “I see that at this stage, the Council is not in a position to reach an agreement on its important work.”

The NPT Review Conference is supposed to be held every five years but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the second failure of 191 States Parties to produce an outcome document. The last review conference in 2015 ended without an agreement because of serious disagreements over establishing a Middle East region free of weapons of mass destruction.

Those differences have not been resolved but are being discussed, and draft outcome documents obtained by The Associated Press may have confirmed the importance of establishing a nuclear-free Middle East region. So it was not seen as a major problem this year.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 was a dynamic issue at the conference, with Russian President Vladimir Putin warning that Russia is a “powerful” nuclear power and that any attempt to intervene would have “results you have never seen”. .” He also put Russia’s nuclear arsenal on high alert.

Putin has since backtracked, saying “a nuclear war cannot be won and can never be fought,” a message reiterated by a senior Russian official on the opening day of the NPT conference on August 2.

But the Russian leader’s initial threat and seizure of the Zaporizhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine, as well as the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986, rekindled global fears of another nuclear emergency.

Four references in the draft final document to the Zaporizhia plant, where Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of firing, indicate that parties to the NPT would have expressed “serious concern about military activity” at or near the facility and other nuclear plants.

It would also have recognized Ukraine’s loss of control and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inability to safeguard nuclear material at the plant. It supported the IAEA’s efforts to visit Zaporizhia to ensure there would be no diversion of its nuclear material, something the agency’s director hopes to organize in the coming days.

The draft also expressed “serious concern” about the security of Ukraine’s nuclear weapons facilities, particularly Zaporizhia, and “stressed the paramount importance of ensuring control by the competent authorities of Ukraine.”

After failing to adopt the conference document, dozens of countries took the floor to express their views.

Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, which includes 120 developing countries, expressed disappointment at the failure and called the final document “extremely important”.

Yan Huang, France’s ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, read a statement of unwavering support for Ukraine on behalf of 56 countries and the European Union, condemning Russia’s “dangerous nuclear rhetoric, actions and provocative statements about raising its nuclear alert level”.

The countries expressed serious concern that Russia is undermining international peace and the goals of the NPT by “waging an illegal war of aggression against Ukraine”.

Andrei Belosov, Russia’s deputy delegation head, said the conference had become a “political hostage” for countries that “discussed Ukraine in political language” and were “determined to settle scores by raising issues not directly related to Russia. Agreement.”

“These states, namely Ukraine and supporters of the Kyiv regime, bear full responsibility for the absence of a final positive result,” he said.

Adam Scheinman, the U.S. Special Representative for Nuclear Proliferation, noted that Russia was never named in the final draft, saying it downplayed the situation at the Zaporizhia plant “and failed to acknowledge what is true for all of us – that there is only a risk of radiological catastrophe.” Russia’s war of choice exists.

“Russia is the reason we don’t have consensus today,” he said. “The last-minute changes that Russia asked for were not minor in nature. They were intended to protect Russia’s apparent intention to wipe Ukraine off the map.”

Under the provisions of the NPT, the five original nuclear powers—the United States, China, Russia (the then Soviet Union), Britain, and France—agreed to negotiate the elimination of their weapons, and non-nuclear-weapon nations pledged not to acquire them in return. Guaranteed to be able to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

A draft of the final document would have expressed grave concern that “the risk of nuclear weapons being used today is greater than it has ever been at the height of the Cold War and the deteriorating international security environment”. Parties to the treaty would commit to “doing their utmost to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again”.

Rebecca Johnson, a British nuclear analyst and co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, said that “after weeks of negotiations at war, unprecedented global risks and heightened nuclear threats, it is now clearer than ever that nuclear abolition is urgent and necessary.” is “

Darryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, said: “This NPT conference represents a missed opportunity to strengthen the treaty and global security by agreeing on a specific action plan with benchmarks and timelines needed to effectively address the escalation. Nuclear arms race and dangers of using nuclear weapons.

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